By: Britt Martin
Long before trees covered the Earth, it is said that our precious planet was covered with mushrooms. It is believed that they have been around for 350-420 millions of years! Interestingly enough, mushrooms share more DNA with animals than they do with plants! Fascinating, right?! While mushrooms themselves aren’t new, medicinal mushrooms are still a newer topic and haven’t quite become mainstream in the wellness world- yet. I have been using them on a daily basis for the past few years now, and often get asked what the benefits of using them are, so I thought I would cover the magical healing benefits of shrooms. And no these aren’t mind altering, psychedelic mushrooms, these are shrooms for vibrant wellness and a clear head. Be prepared to trip out on all of the healing benefits of these shrooms…
While medicinal mushrooms may be new (or newish) to you, these superfoods have actually been used since the time of the Ancient Egyptians and Chinese for their health benefits. Even some of our first medical antibiotics in the West were created from extracting medicinal shrooms, and are still used today in medicine. Penicillin is a perfect example of this. Specifically, medicinal shrooms are great for immune health, fighting cancer, and also helping the body adapt to stress. Not only that, they are full of antioxidants (which protect your body against free radicals), and have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties making them stellar for helping your body build natural resistance against various diseases, toxins, and viruses it encounters.
Additionally, each medicinal mushroom species has their own specific health benefits based on their own unique blend of polysaccharides, which boost the immune system in different ways. So which Shroom is right for you? While I like to include a variety of them in my diet, you may gravitate towards one to try out first based on your own unique body’s needs.
Find YOUR shroom:
Chaga-Great for anti-aging + inflammation fighting
This shroom is packing a range of potent antioxidants. In fact, it is one of the top superfoods with the highest amount of antioxidants. Which makes Chaga one of the best shrooms for anti-aging benefits. Superoxide dismutase is largely present in this shroom, and is able to neutralize damage caused by free radicals, thus protecting the body against disease. It also has compounds like betulinic acid and inotodiol which help to lower disease-causing inflammation in the body.
Reishi- Great for anxiety + stress
Regarded as the “Medicine of Kings” and the “Mushroom of Immortality” by the Chinese, reishi can be used to help those with insomnia, a common side effect of anxiety, depression, and stress. Not only that, because of the adaptogenic herbs found in it, it is able to help your body adapt and handle anxiety and stress. Reishi is also considered to be muscle relaxing, calming, and pain inhibiting.
Lion’s Mane- Brain nourishment
Lion’s Mane is the only mushroom that has TWO potent nerve growth factors which help to keep your brain healthy and flourishing. It can help to regrow damaged nerves, and may even help treat or reverse the progression of Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In Asia, it is referred to the mushroom that gives you “Nerves of steel and the memory of a lion”. This shroom is perfect if you feel like you have brain fog, memory loss, or are in need of some extra brain love.
Cordyceps- Great for an energy boost + Creative energy
These are great for those with a busy and/or active lifestyle. Cordyceps have been shown to improve endurance and support one’s workout recovery. They are able to increase oxygen in the blood and ATP synthesis (the body’s energy). It is also full of antioxidants which help to offset the free radicals caused from working out. An extra bonus? It also helps to increase sexual libido.
Turkey Tail- Immune health
This shroom is great for boosting one’s immune system. Studies have shown that it is protective against many types of cancer, not only in humans, but for our beloved dogs too. In addition to nourishing the immune system, it boosts energy and can aid in pain relief. It’s also been used as a buffer against the damaging effects of chemo and radiation.
Maitake- Blood sugar balancing + heart loving
Because of its ability to curb glucose levels, Maitake is great for reducing insulin resistance and preventing Type 2 Diabetes. This shroom can also be used to support healthy weight (when combined with a nourishing + active lifestyle). Additionally, it is commonly used in Japan to lower blood pressure and blood lipids, which help to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Now that a new light has been shed on the mystical powers of (medicinal) shrooms, it’s time for you to stock up! My favorite shroom brands are OM Mushrooms (Love their Beauty mix and really ALL of their shrooms), Root and Bones (3 varietals of wild-crafted shrooms and the cutest packaging ever) and Four Sigmatic (love their cocoa shroom mix packets and their Winning shroom mix). I suggest always purchasing organic medicinal mushrooms, or wild-crafted, when possible. Add them to everything from smoothies, elixirs, oats, bliss balls, pancakes, and more for some ELEVATED health. They are pretty much a breakfast/daily staple for me now. Cheers to medicinal shrooms and all of their magical benefits!
**Please consult with your medical doctor before using medicinal mushrooms to help with any disease or condition you may have**
See more from Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Teacher, Britt Martin, here.